Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

        From the blog For Love of the Table

Olive oil

6 short ribs with bones (about 4 pounds); see Note

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large or 2 medium onions (about 12 oz.), halved and thinly sliced

2 carrots (5 or 6 oz.), topped & tailed, peeled and sliced

1 large celery rib, trimmed and sliced

4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled and thickly sliced

1 T. double concentrate tomato paste

One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine

3 or 4 well-branched thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 T. butter (optional)

1 T. flour (optional)


In a large, deep sided skillet or braiser, heat some oil until shimmering. Season the ribs well with salt and pepper. Add them to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, turning as necessary, until they are well browned all over...20 minutes or so. Transfer the ribs to a plate. 


Pour off all but about a tablespoon of fat from the pan and add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they are beginning to soften and are lightly colored—10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring to distribute it evenly—for a minute or two.  Add the wine and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce by a third to a half.  Return the meat to the pan and add water (or chicken stock if you prefer) until the liquid comes about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the meat.  Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to a preheated 325° oven. 


Cook, checking occasionally to make sure the liquid is at a bare simmer.  If it is boiling hard, reduce the oven temperature as necessary.  When the meat is beginning to be tender—after about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, uncover the braise and turn the meat over.  Continue to cook, turning the meat every half hour or so and adding hot water to maintain liquid to about a depth of half way up the sides of the meat, until the meat is meltingly tender—a fork or a paring knife inserted into the meat will not encounter resistance or "grab".  The total braising time will be anywhere from two to four hours. 


Transfer the meat to a clean shallow baking dish, discarding the bones as they fall off. Strain the sauce into a heatproof measuring cup (pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible) and skim off as much fat as possible (it is not unusual to skim off as much as  a cup of fat).  You will have about 11/2 to 2 cups of skimmed sauce.  Pour the sauce over the meat.  Cool. Cover and chill overnight.


The day you are planning to serve, pull the meat out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before serving.  Scrape off and discard any solidified fat that is apparent on the surface.  Transfer the meat and sauce to a deep-sided sauté pan and warm gently (covered) over low heat.  When the meat and liquid are hot, remove the meat from the pan.  If the sauce is not as thick as you would like, you may reduce it.  Reducing it will concentrate the flavor too, so if you are pleased with the flavor and it is too thin, prepare some kneaded butter or a roux with the flour and butter.  Whisk the roux/kneaded butter into the simmering sauce a bit (half teaspoon or so) at a time until the sauce is lightly thickened.  Gently pull away any remaining connective tissue from the area where the bone was attached to the meat and discard.  Using two forks, break the meat into the size portions that you prefer—or leave whole.  Return the meat to the sauce and keep warm over the lowest heat until ready to serve.  If you prefer, the meat and sauce may be reheated in the oven instead of on the stove top. 


To serve, transfer the meat to individual plates or a deep serving platter, spoon the sauce on top and serve.


Serves 6 to 8.



*  You may use English-style or Flanken-style short ribs...just make sure that you choose meaty ribs that are well-trimmed of excess fat. 

*   To prepare kneaded butter, simply combine the tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of softened butter to form a uniform paste.  I prefer to prepare a roux because it allows you to cook off the raw taste of the flour.  Simply melt the butter in a very small saucepan or sauté pan.  When the butter foams, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture is a very pale cream color and is bubbling all over—about a minute.


(Recipe adapted from Food & Wine July 2008)